Jose Mourinho is under huge pressure to deliver top-level European football, with failure set to cost the Tottenham boss his job.
A season in the European wilderness will place significant strain on the club’s finances that has already endured major blows by their failure to qualify for this term’s Champions League and the Covid pandemic.
And while Mourinho’s position is under greater internal scrutiny following Thursday’s disastrous Europa League exit to Dinamo Zagreb, there are also emerging concerns that the Portuguese is fighting to remedy a fractured dressing room amid fears of disharmony within the squad.
The process of identifying potential replacements for Mourinho has already begun with Red Bull Leipzig boss Julian Naglesmann viewed by many behind the scenes as the perfect candidate to takeover if a decision is made to part with the current head coach.
The highly-rated German coach could be obtainable for as less as £6million a year – a fraction of Mourinho’s current salary which is said to be worth as much as £13million.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers is also admired but his appointment would be riddled with difficulties.
The club’s financial position is emerging as a key factor in deciding the direction the club heads ahead of next season.
Mourinho still has two years left on his current deal, meaning he is entitled to a substantial compensation package if chairman Daniel Levy decides act.
There is an obvious reluctance to fork out for another sacked manager, particularly in Mourinho’s case given the amount any compensation deal would cost.
Sportsmail understands Spurs would look to put Mourinho on gardening leave if they decide to pull the trigger, meaning they could continue to pay him monthly rather than fork out one lump sum.
Tottenham employed this tactic with previous Mauricio Pochettino, who they stopped paying when he was appointed new Paris Saint Germain boss in December.
The failure to qualify for European football next season will represent an even greater financial hit, a scenario the club are desperate to avoid.
Last season’s failure to qualify for the Champions League arrived as a substantial blow to their income, as has the fact they’ve had no match-day revenue since the pandemic struck last year.
Regaining their Champions League status was viewed as the absolute priority given the financial boost it would provide.
Tottenham are currently six points adrift of fourth placed Chelsea and have a game in hand – so making the top-four isn’t inconceivable.
Their embarrassing loss to Dinamo – a result that has mounted huge pressure on Mourinho – means Tottenham can only qualify for the Champions League by finishing in the top four.